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Alter Your Communication Techniques

November 24, 2011

There are many different types of language barriers in the work place. It is more then just different languages from different regions of the world.  Language barriers may also arise with situations such as accent differences, hearing impaired customers, connection problems over the phone, and many more. The best customer service representatives find their own unique techniques in order to communicate effectively with their customers. It is more then just speaking their language or understanding the accents. You must be aware of what the problems are that are affecting the understand and fix them.

According to Laura Acevedo, Demand Media here are some steps you can use to help better your communication barriers.

Step One: Develop an escalation procedure for language barrier issues.

This also includes hiring staff that knows the specific languages that will be most represented in your business.

Step Two: Providing training for your customer service personal.

This will help prepare you customer service representatives for problems that may arise during their work days. It is a great time to practice skits, or over the phone conversations. Allowing your staff to feel how uncomfortable it is to not understand and showing them ways to help their customers. It is a great time to create activities that allow for your staff to step into their customers shoes.

Step Three: Offer additional customer contact techniques:

Sometimes the language barrier is far to large and simply speaking over the phone or in person will not help. Make sure you have other forms of communication techniques. Allowing them to send emials, write a letter, or even read the information on the website. Don’t be afraid to stop talking and hand them a written document. Your customers are probably feeling just as frustrated as you are, and moving to a different tool may show them that they are important to you.

Here are some example of when to step out of formal communications techniques.
I have a family that comes to my work multiple times a week and always has the same question, but in a different form. She has a very strong, Chinese accent.  Her English is very good, but i feel she does not understand English as well as she speaks it. Last week she came in with a questions about her bill. We run on an automatic debit or credit on the 5th of each month. Accounts are automatically charged.

This month, due to the holiday season, our customers were prorated for the month. Our Thursday, Friday, and Saturday classes were cancelled so we did not charge the customers for those days.

This specific customer came in and informed me that she thought we cancelled her booking because she wasn’t changed the full amount. I proceeded to tell her.

“You are still enrolled in classes, due to the holiday season your account was prorated to $72.00 because we are not offering classes on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.”

The customer, still confused by the situation did not understand. I choose to go to a more visual communication technique.

I brought down the calender and a calculator. As I spoke i pointed to the days on the calender. “there are a total of 5 classes for you in November” I then pointed to the days we were closed. Finally i showed her on the calculator, how we prorated her account. With the visual tools, as well as my patients in showing her the process she finally understood the situation, and was happy that we took the time to show her.

This is an example of how to use tools you are given in order to help your customers. Tips to remember, be patient, be kind and be understanding.

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